Project Description

When you live in Chicago, one minute the weather outside is too hot, and the next it’s too cold—something we have experienced all too much of this year. But, one place you should always count on being just right is inside your home, which is why I thought it might be a good idea to test the Venstar ColorTouch digital thermostat. Not only could it help create the right temperature in our home, but it could also help save a little green—both money and energy, that is.

The setup—like a few other thermostat installations—took a little bit of time, but overall it was relatively easy to set up and use. Once installed, it was time to dive into all the capabilities that this thermostat has to offer—the truly fun part.

Like many thermostats being sold today, the ColorTouch thermostat has many features such as customizable displays, time-period programming, and energy-usage information. One unique capability is an alert system to let you know when it’s time for maintenance. While thermostats like Nest and others are getting all the hype for a sleek design and automatic setting of temperatures, I like that this thermostat does more than just program temperatures. Being able to alert me it’s time for maintenance in the home takes much of the burden off our shoulders—while keeping the home running as smoothly as possible.

What would a smart, connected thermostat be without an app? The Venstar ColorTouch digital thermostat also has a mobile application and ColorTouch Assistant software, which is compatible for a Mac or PC. To use your mobile device, you must have a Skyport cloud account and a Skyport Wi-Fi key installed on the ColorTouch. What can the app do? The application can be used to look up energy usage and allows you to adjust your room temperatures from anywhere you want.

Here is something that makes Venstar a little bit different from the other sleek, circular thermostats on the market: Venstar’s new ColorTouch Thermostat also doubles as a digital picture frame. That’s right, you can add any picture you want or select from a dozen different themes, including holiday settings, for background wallpaper.

With this feature, you can set a slideshow as a screensaver, or select a picture as the background for the control screen. Using the ColorTouch Assistant, you can download and edit your pictures to fit the screen, then sync the pictures you selected to the SD card and insert it into the ColorTouch unit to reload them onto the thermostat. Like the process of uploading photos to many of the digital picture frames on the market, admittedly, it was somewhat of a long process. Here is what I would like to see in the next release of this thermostat: This to be done wirelessly. I do have to say, even though the process was a bit tedious, in the end the graphics do look amazing on the wall.

What makes this thermostat different from others on the market? Many have scheduling capabilities, but this thermostat takes it one step further. The time period scheduler automatically changes the temperature and mode for four periods a day: morning, day, evening, and night. What’s more, you are also able to customize for times and temperatures as well. For example, the ColorTouch allows for comfortable temperatures when you are at home, work, or away on vacation.

While you are away, you can also manage energy use by activating the ‘energy savings mode’ when the home is vacant. With this feature, energy usage graphs let you see how much energy you used to heat or cool for the past seven days.

One of the interesting components that I like is the graphs allow you to see when your equipment is running and gives you a better look at what specifically you can do to decrease your energy costs. This access to realtime data about energy usage in the home is not only fun to look at, but also provides real value for any homeowner who is looking to conserve both energy and money.

But that’s not all. Another unique feature, the At-a-Glance screen, shows the user heating and cooling status, as well as the room temperature. Taking it a step further, the ColorTouch thermostat can be wired with an outdoor sensor so the outside temperature can additionally be displayed.

The user has the option to display the high and low temperatures and humidity readings for the day. This means your thermostat not only keeps an eye on the temperature in the home—it also displays what is happening outside the home as well.

So the device can help monitor and manage temperature setting and energy consumption, but is it secure? For those who don’t like other people changing the temperature or setting the thermostat too high or too low, there is a security passcode, which can be set to lock the screen seconds after touching it. This feature would also be good for an office or public setting.

ColorTouch is compatible with most heating and air conditioners. After installing, the contractors can pull up output menus and make sure everything is running properly. Contractors can even do “preseason checkups” on the units by logging into Skyport and turning on the system. This enables them to identify any problems that need to be taken care of or if a service call needs to be made.

The ColorTouch is very simple to use and is very straightforward for both installers and users. All the screens are user friendly and navigating the device is very easy.

If you are looking for a thermostat that is easy to use and helps keep your home at just the right temperature, ColorTouch might be one for you to consider. Now, if only the installation and photo uploading could be automatic.